Narrative Medicine, Healing and Salutogenesis: Contrasting meta-narratives

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Joel Kreisberg
Gary Huffaker


While narrative medicine “fortifies clinical practice with the narrative competence to recognize, absorb, metabolize, interpret, and be moved by stories of illness”,

(, the role of healing in clinical narratives has yet to be considered. Salutogenesis, defined by the late Anton Antonovsky, is the ‘creation of health and the fostering of healing’ where healing does not simply address reversal of disease but emphasizes health-promoting experiences and behaviors as distinct and differentiated from the illness perspective. This contrast between illness and healing offers an opportunity to consider a deeper meta-narrative (identity stories that confer legitimacy on what we do) – that can significantly broaden and likely add to the impact of narrative medicine.


In this 45-minute workshop, Drs. Kreisberg and Huffaker will guide participants through two narrative exercises – the first, an illness narrative, and second, a healing narrative. By introducing Antonovsky’s perspective on healing, participants will gain an awareness of a deep and widespread meta-narrative comparison that has yet to be articulated in narrative medicine. In contrasting these meta-narratives, it is suggested that work has yet to be done to fully explore the potential for healing narratives in narrative medicine. They can afford the exploration of stories far beyond the bio-medical illness paradigm and introduce the likelihood that including both illness and healing stories offers an enriched potential for narrative elements of whole person care.

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How to Cite
Kreisberg, J., & Huffaker, G. (2018). Narrative Medicine, Healing and Salutogenesis: Contrasting meta-narratives. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 5(1).
Congress 2017

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